A few days ago, I woke up with a clogged, ringing ear. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with ear problems. As a child, I was plagued with ear infections. Painful, stabbing, aching attacks that resulted in trips to the doctor and antibiotics. In one notable instance, some blood dripped from my ear canal, prompting immediate and panicked sobbing.
As I got older, the ear infections lessened to near extinction. In fact, this most recent attack doesn’t feel like an infection at all. I’m not sick, and I haven’t been particularly congested. The logical part of my brain has suggested perhaps there’s some impacted ear wax lurking in there. But the part of my brain that just lived through 2020 is quietly arguing this is a little-known symptom of COVID-19. Or, you know, maybe I’m going deaf.
Yeah, that’s the ticket. I’m going deaf. The ringing hasn’t subsided in four days now, so obviously it’s permanent. I better get used to the squealing, because it’s here to stay.
Such is the nature of my thoughts after the year we’ve had. But with 2021 firmly in hand, I’m attempting to shift focus and regain some lost momentum. I’m trying to ignore the constant ringing in my ears. (Figuratively speaking. I do have a doctor’s appointment for the literal ringing).
On the first of the new year, I check my journal and read the previous list of goals, and I list accomplishments. Then I create a new list of goals for the coming year. To my surprise, I actually did accomplish much of what I set out to do this year, despite the turbulent airspace through which we travelled.
I finished editing and began submitting my latest novel, The Precipice of Nowhere. I published the revised edition of Soundtrack to the End of the World through Bloodshot Books. I had a short story published in the new anthology One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington. My brother and I launched this brand-new website! And most recently, I began working on an as-yet unannounced ghostwriting gig.
All proceeds of this charity anthology are going to the American Transplant Foundation.
For what I’ve alternately called “The Lost Year” and “The Cursed Year,” my list of accomplishments wasn’t too bad. Feeling bolstered, I created my list of goals for the coming year. My lists don’t change much. They always consist of continued writing, reading, and sculpting. I usually try to throw on something like, “Try something new this year.” Creating my list for the year, I felt simultaneously optimistic and scared. Will this year be better than the last?
The horror writer inside of me doesn’t like to think optimistically. It’s counterproductive to what we do. Still, I couldn’t help but feel a glimmer of hope. I don’t usually like the end of the holidays and the coming of a new year. It makes me feel old and unaccomplished. But this year, I’m okay with the passage of time. This year, maybe the ringing in my ears will subside.
Happy New Year, friends. I hope it’s a good one for all of us.